Korach 5781-2021

“The Origin of the ‘Big Lie’”
(updated and revised from Korach 5762-2002)

According to the Midrash, Korach was a brilliant provocateur who was able to convince the hordes to believe that he was rebelling for the sake of the common good, instead of for his own personal benefit. By drawing a distorted caricature of the mitzvot of the Torah, Korach was able to convince the people that Moses and Aaron were personally benefitting from the mitzvot and observances that they were advocating.

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Shelach 5781-2021

“What’s in a Name?”
(updated and revised from Shelach 5762-2002)

Unexpectedly, the Torah spells out the names of each of the twelve leaders who were sent to represent their tribes and scout out the land of Israel. However, when we compare the names of these individuals with the names of the princes who were selected in Numbers 1 to help Moses count the tribes, we see something rather startling. The names of the princes are far more complex, and contain many religious references. They are substantial names for substantial people. The names of the scouts, on the other hand, are very short, and have few references to G-d. What is the message that the names communicate?

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B’ha’a’lot’cha 5781-2021

“Is This What the Torah Predicted?”
(updated and revised from B’ha’a’lot’cha 5762-2002)

In parashat B'ha'a’lot'cha we find two extremely telling stories concerning two groups of ancient Israelites. The first, the "mixed multitude," cry out, "Our souls are dried up, there is nothing at all!" The second group protest to Moses that they do not wish to miss celebrating the ritual of the Pascal sacrifice together with their families and the entire people of Israel. These two groups may very well represent the millions of alienated contemporary Jews who have declared that their souls are dried up, as well as another growing number of contemporary Jews who love their Judaism and wish to engage and inspire their turned-off brothers and sisters who are ignorant of their heritage.

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Naso 5781-2021

“The Challenge of the Priestly Blessings”
(updated and revised from Naso 5762-2002)

The issue of whether human beings can “encourage” G-d to bless them, or if human beings can actually bless G-d, is not easily resolved. One thing we know for sure is that mortals certainly need G-d's blessings.

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Bamidbar 5781-2021

“Counting on the People of Israel"
(updated and revised from Bamidbar 5762-2002)

The excruciating detail that the Torah goes into when reporting on the census of the People of Israel, underscores the importance of the organizational structure of the Jewish people. The redundant counting of the Jewish people in the parasha may be a rabbi's nightmare, but the details underscore each individual Jew's preciousness.

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